Drug Offenses

Criminal Sale or Possession of a Controlled Substance

These charges apply to individuals who are accused of either selling or possessing illegal drugs. In New York, illegal drugs are referred to as ‘controlled substances.’ The most serious controlled substance charge is an A-1 Felony, while a minor controlled substance charge is only a misdemeanor.

Controlled substance cases are often handled by specialized officers. In New York City, the NYPD has its own Narcotics Division. Many District Attorney Offices have specialized units with prosecutors who exclusively handle controlled substance cases. Controlled substance offenses have their own unique rules and punishments. A person charged with this type of crime is often treated differently from other offenders, and may benefit from more lenient sentences, particularly if the accused has a drug addiction.

It is important that a person facing a controlled substance prosecution is represented by a criminal attorney who has experience with these cases. Dietrich P. Epperson has defended, investigated, and (as a former assistant district attorney) prosecuted controlled substance cases throughout New York City.

It should be noted that Marijuana or Marihuana is treated differently from other controlled substances in New York, and is discussed in a different section of this website.

In New York, Article 220 of the Penal Law deals exclusively with controlled substance crimes. The criminal charges are divided into 2 different categories: (1) Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance, and (2) Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance

1st Category: Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance (CPCS)

There are 6 levels of severity for this type of crime: (1) CPCS in the First Degree under Penal Law Section 220.21, (2) CPCS in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 220.18, (3) CPCS in the Third Degree under Penal Law Section 220.16, (4) CPCS in the Fourth Degree under Penal Law Section 220.09, (5) CPCS in the Fifth Degree under Penal Law Section 220.06, and (6) CPCS in the Seventh Degree under Penal Law Section 220.03. Also, CPCS has its own legal terms and definitions, and these are found under Penal Law Section 220.00.

CPCS in the Seventh Degree

CPCS in the Seventh Degree is an A Misdemeanor in New York. The minimum punishment is an alternative sentence where a person can avoid jail time, and the maximum punishment is 1 year jail. CPCS in the Seventh Degree can be charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance.

CPCS in the Fifth Degree

CPCS in the Fifth Degree is a D Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 2.5 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CPCS in the Fifth Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person possesses a controlled substance with intent to sell it, OR
  • A person possesses cocaine, and once the dilutant or ‘cut’ is removed the remaining pure cocaine weighs ½ gram or more.

CPCS in the Fourth Degree

CPCS in the Fourth Degree is a C Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 5 and 1/2 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CPCS in the Fourth Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing 1/8 ounce or more, regardless of purity.

CPCS in the Third Degree

CPCS in the Third Degree is a B Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 9 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CPCS in the Third Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) with the intent to sell it, OR
  • A person possesses a narcotic drug weighing ½ ounce or more, regardless of purity.

CPCS in the Second Degree

CPCS in the Second Degree is an A-II Felony in New York. The minimum punishment for this crime is 3 years jail, and the maximum punishment is 10 years jail. CPCS in the Second Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing four ounces or more, regardless of purity.

CPCS in the First Degree

CPCS in the First Degree is an A-I Felony in New York. The minimum punishment for this crime is 8 years jail, and the maximum punishment for this crime is 20 years jail. CPCS in the First Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person possesses a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing eight ounces or more, regardless of purity.

2nd Category: Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance (CSCS)

There are 5 levels of severity for this type of crime: (1) CSCS in the First Degree under Penal Law Section 220.43, (2) CSCS in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 220.41, (3) CSCS in the Third Degree under Penal Law Section 220.39, (4) CSCS in the Fourth Degree under Penal Law Section 220.34, and (5) CSCS in the Fifth Degree under Penal Law Section 220.31. Also, CSCS has its own legal terms and definitions, and these are found under Penal Law Section 220.00.

CSCS in the Fifth Degree

CSCS in the Fifth Degree is a D Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 2.5 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CSCS in the Fifth Degree is charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully sells a controlled substance.

CSCS in the Fourth Degree

CSCS in the Fourth Degree is a C Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 5 and 1/2 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CSCS in the Fourth Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully sells a controlled substance upon school grounds or on a school bus.

CSCS in the Third Degree

CSCS in the Third Degree is a B Felony in New York. The minimum punishment is 1 year jail and the maximum punishment is 9 years jail. There is also the possibility (under extenuating circumstances) that a judge can impose an alternative sentence where the accused can get less jail time, or possibly no jail time at all. CSCS in the Third Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin).

CSCS in the Second Degree

CSCS in the Second Degree is an A-II Felony in New York. The minimum punishment for this crime is 3 years jail, and the maximum punishment is 10 years jail. CSCS in the Second Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing ½ ounce or more, regardless of purity.

CSCS in the First Degree

CSCS in the First Degree is an A-I Felony in New York. The minimum punishment for this crime is 8 years jail, and the maximum punishment for this crime is 20 years jail. CSCS in the First Degree is most commonly charged when:

  • A person knowingly and unlawfully sells a narcotic drug (often cocaine or heroin) weighing two ounces or more, regardless of purity.

If you are facing allegations of committing a drug crime in NYC, call the law offices of Dietrich P. Epperson at (347) 561-0025, or contact us online today to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.